Role of Australian Jewry Will Be Stressed at Asian Confab

A major Asia-Pacific Jewish Colloqulum will be held in Singapore September 11-12, the first of its kind ever in this region, according to Isi Leibler, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ). It will parallel the Seminar on Anti-Semitism, held here June 10-11 under the sponsorship of the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs.

Leibler said, in a summary of the Seminar released last week, that both events “will serve to bring to the attention of Australian Jewry the important role it will inevitably and increasingly play in world affairs.” Australia, with a population of 14.9 million, is home to an estimated 75,000 Jews, the largest Jewish population in the Asia-Pacific region. The Jewish population of other countries in the area ranges from 4,300 in India and 4,000 in New Zealand to only 150 in the Philippines.

“Australia, of course, contains by far the largest, best organized Jewish population in the Asian Pacific region and is much more closely situated to East Asia than is the United States. I believe we have both the opportunity and responsibility to assist the smaller Jewish communities of the region and to work insofar as we can to assist both the Jewish people and for the benefit of the State of Israel in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.

The Melbourne Seminor on “Anti-Semitism and Human Rights” last month concentrated on the “ideological convergence” between the for rightwing and the extreme left in contemporary anti-Semitism. Both employ anti-Zionism and the rightwing propagates the notion that the Holocaust never occurred.

AUSTRALIA SPARED ANTI-SEMITIC EXCESSES

In summarizing the seminar, Liebler noted that “There was general agreement that both historically and at the present time, Australia has been spared not only the worst excesses of the Western world’s anti-Semitism, but virtually any significant organized sources of anti-Jewish feeling.”

Nevertheless, Liebler observed, “there is agreement that anti-Semitism does exist and may be on the rise. Some of this renewed anti-Semitism here,” he said, “represents the Australia facet of the organized ideological sources of the extreme right and left which exist around the world, while church and media sources bitterly hostile to Israel and its Jewish supporters and often couching their hostility to Jews in the imagery of traditional anti-Semitism also exist here.”

He said Australian Jews are also concerned over “the increasing instances of apparently unorganized anti-Semitism, ranging from hooligan-style harassment and abuse of synagogue-goers from passing cars to swastika doubings and instances of vandalism.”

‘TIP OF ICEBERG’

Liebler said he was “convinced that such instances are on the rise and represent the tip of an iceberg of racial hatred which can only be stirred during times of rising unemployment and if mainstream voices appear to exploit fears of recent migration.”

He added that “Whether these unorganized outbursts have in fact been found by, or are even linked to, such organized sources of anti-Semitism as neo-Nazi groups or radical Arab sympathizers, or whether they are linked to organized anti-Asian racialist groups, are matters of speculation which the community must further explore.”

But another theme that emerged from the Melbourne Seminar, he said, was that “in the contemporary world, the Jewish community generally has allies in the governments of the democracies, freinds and supporters in most mainstream ethnic, religious and political groups, and possible legal remedies for instances of organized anti-Semitism.”

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